The four Corners Motorcycle Rally starts two weeks from today in Ignacio and Durango. Rally Central is at the Sky Ute Event Center. The organizing committee is an independent entity spun off from the Ignacio Chamber of Commerce.
Most of the planning, organizing, and work during Rally Week is done by local volunteers, and more are always needed. Volunteer Coordinator Tuggy Dunton said volunteers are needed for four hour shifts, starting Monday, Aug. 25, through Labor Day. "We need volunteers!" she said. "Maybe two times as many as last year."
This will be the third year back at the Event Center. There will be vendors, concerts, and a full schedule of activities for bikers and other spectators from gates open at 9 a.m. to late night.
The Ignacio Chamber of Commerce took over the rally on very short notice in 2006 after a dispute between the private for-profit organizer at the time and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. All the vendors and events were in downtown Ignacio that year until 2012, when free activities downtown competed with paid admission to the Events Center. The Ignacio rally lost $80,000 to $90,000 that year "because we were giving it away for free," organizing committee chair Johnny Valdez said at a volunteer meeting on Aug. 9.
Last year, all Ignacio vendors and events were at the Events Center with paid admission, as they were in the 1990s.
"Last year we gained $120,000," with 5,000 paid admissions and 7,000 through the gate, Valdez said. "Last year on Saturday, we brought in over $95,000."
So far this year, four times as many on-line tickets have been sold compared to this time last year, he said.
"You are the reason this thing works," Valdez told volunteers. If helpers are being paid anything, "it's peanuts."
Organizing committee member Mel Silva said official activities will be three days, Friday through Sunday, Aug. 29-31, instead of four. The rally grounds will open Thursday at 6 p.m. with free admission for a pre-rally party.
"There's a couple hundred thousand dollars that goes into putting on this event," Silva said. "That's what it costs." He compared the $10 a day admission charge (advance sales) for a full day of activities and concerts to the cost of going to a movie. Tickets at the gate will be $15 per day.
"We'll have awesome entertainment," he said. "People said the music last year was the best ever. We're spending around $8,000 more this year. We'll have back the bands people like, 'the one with that girl.'"
Silva said he spends a lot of time scouting out bands that are on the verge of national fame, to book them while they're still affordable.
Rally signature events are the biker bull riding, which will be just on Saturday this year, and the Million Dollar Highway Poker Run to Silverton on Saturday, starting in Durango at the Durango & Silverton train station. Sponsorship from D&SNGRR and Durango Mountain Resort help legitimize the rally, Silva said.
"We want to be in the Big Three (among rallies) with Daytona and Sturgis," he said. "Nobody can duplicate what we have for rides."
The other big rides are the Veterans' Poker Run Friday from Rally Central to Farmington, and the Mayors' Ride Poker Run on Sunday, which includes stops at Vallecito and Bayfield, ending at the rally grounds.
Poker run proceeds will go to Operation Second Chance to aid military veterans, the Children's Discovery Museum in Durango, and the Pink Ribbon (breast cancer) Coalition. "We're all about giving money away," Silva said.
New this year will be a zip-line challenge, and midget wrestling on Sunday to draw people back from the motorcycle parade in Durango. "Yes, it's un-PC," Silva said. "We had a huge response online."
There are fewer events crammed into the schedule at the event center this year, he said. "We've pulled our horns back a bit and focussed on the best things. But there will never be a dull moment."
The complete schedule of activities at the event center and in Durango is in the rally booklet now available at area businesses, or online at FourCornersMotorcycleRally.com.
Rally activities at the Event Center will end Sunday night with the motorcycle giveaway.
Silva referred to the large amount of money Durango spent on the Pro Challenge bicycle race a couple years ago, versus the less than hoped for economic boost to the area from that event. "Businesses said they were waiting for the real bikers, because Spandex doesn't have pockets," he said.